Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
Dor Revi'i

Torah Insights on the Weekly Parsha
by Efraim Levine


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The Reisha Rav
HaGoan R' Aaron Levine zt"l
Author of
Hadrash Ve-Haiyan


Rosh Hashanah
5762


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The commentators offer many insights into the nature of the shofer blowing on Rosh Hashanah. Let us introduce a number of points and suggest an additional idea.

Rav Moshe Wolfson the author of Emunas Eitechah notes that Rosh Hashanah is exactly fifty days after the ninth day of Av, the day that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed. The timeframe of fifty days is significant in that it represents the totality of time needed by the Jewish people to prepare for a spiritual event. For example, after the Jewish people were taken out of Egypt they prepared themselves spiritually for the giving of the Torah for exactly fifty days. The commentators explain that each and every day the Jewish people lifted themselves further from the traces of the idolatry and contamination that they were accustomed to until they succeeded in reaching the spiritual plateau of being worthy to receive the Torah. Every year we are required to relive and reenact this spiritual ascent by also counting forty-nine days from the day we relive redemption of Egyptian bondage to the day we receive the Torah on the fiftieth day.

Similarly, every year on the ninth day of Av we relive the tragedy of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Immediately thereafter we spend forty-nine days rebuilding our spiritual foundations in an attempt to be worthy of the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash. The fiftieth day is the first day of Rosh Hashanah and thus a most favorable time for the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash.

A central theme of Rosh Hashanah is the concept of “Malchus.” On this day we focus on the majesty and sovereignty of Hashem. Every year on this day we re-coronate Hashem as King of the World.

We are aware that the coming of Moshiach will be accompanied by the blowing of the shofer. The posuk says “And it will be on that day a great shofer sound will be sounded …”

The Torah tells us that the first day of the seventh month shall be a day of “teruah” (Bamidbar 29:1). Chazal teach us that the sound of a teruah is similar to the sound of a human cry. This interpretation is derived from the targum on this posuk which translates the word teruah as ya’ba’vah.  The only other reference to the word ya’ba’vah is the cry of the Sisro’s mother as she awaited in vain the return of her evil son from battle. In sefer shoftim (5:28) Devorah describes the mother of Sisro as peering out through a window and crying (va’ti’ya’bev) in despair for the return of her son. The posuk’s words are “why has his chariot delayed in coming?”

Although the sound of our shofer does not contain words, it is noteworthy that the Biblical source for the sound we produce was accompanied by these words “why has his chariot delayed in coming.” Further, it is important to note the word “chariot” in tanach is consistently used in connection with majesty and sovereignty. It appears that in the time of tanach only rulers and kings owned chariots.

Thus we see that Rosh Hashanah is a holiday that is to be viewed in connection with the ninth day of Av. It represents the culmination of our spiritual renewal and recovery. It is a day that is opportune and favorable for the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash. On Rosh Hashanah we blow the shofer in an attempt to awaken the coming of Mashiach that will also be ushered in with the blowing of great shofer. In our plea we sound the teruah. With our teruah we don’t just produce a sound of a human cry but also invoke the words that accompany the source of this cry. However, instead of identifying with the cry of the mother of an evil and wicked man we redirect these words to the Majesty of Hashem. We cry out “Why has His (Hashem’s) chariot delayed in coming?”

 


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Efraim Levine 5761/2001